One Vikings Addition Shocked Justin Jefferson

Different Story
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Despite the departures of Danielle Hunter and Kirk Cousins, two of the franchise’s top players and annual Pro Bowl candidates, Minnesota still employs plenty of talented guys, especially on offense. Jordan Addison and T.J. Hockenson support Justin Jefferson in building one of the top receiving groups in the league, with Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill keeping the passers clean.

One Vikings Addition Shocked Justin Jefferson

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Another excellent player was added in free agency: Aaron Jones. Green Bay’s longtime starting running back became available, and the Vikings didn’t hesitate and kept him in the NFC North. That signing even shocked Justin Jefferson, according to his head coach, Kevin O’Connell, who spoke about the value of running backs on Tuesday and mentioned his star player:

I do think it’s gone a little too far because they are still a really really impactful position. I mean, when you talk to Justin Jefferson, and you tell him, ‘We brought Aaron Jones aboard,’ his first reaction is he’s shocked because he didn’t think it would even be possible for us to bring a guy like that who we play two times a year and have flat out felt his impact on a lot of football games. It’s gone to a place where it’s probably gone a little bit too far, and I know we benefitted from the opportunity to add a player like Aaron.

Kevin O’Connell
1 Vikings Addition Shocked Justin Jefferson
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Before his release, Jones had been an explosive playmaker for the Packers ever since he entered the league in the 2017 draft. He wasn’t immediately asked to play a huge role as a day-three draft choice, but he slowly grew into the go-to playmaker.

The Packers made a splash move when they acquired 2022 top rusher Josh Jacobs from the Las Vegas Raiders. Because Jacobs is younger and more productive than Jones, he costs twice as much. He signed a massive $48 million contract for four seasons.

Aaron Jones
Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Patrick Jones II (91) during their football game on Sunday, January 1, 2023, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Wm. Glasheen USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin.

Jones was due to count $17.6 million against the salary cap because the Packers pushed some of his cap hits into the future. By releasing him, they saved $5.2 million. Green Bay tried to get him to agree to a pay cut, but he didn’t budge; a release was the result. Jones was available to join Minnesota for a salary of $7 million for one season, a reasonable number for a player of his caliber.

If the veteran has any ill will toward the Packers, he can make them pay twice in the upcoming season.

When healthy, Jones is one of the most productive running backs in the NFL. He was part of the fantastic running back class in 2017 when the Vikings selected Dalvin Cook while the Packers chose Jones and Jamal Williams. Since that draft, Jones ranks seventh among running backs in the NFL in scrimmage yards and sixth in touchdowns.

Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Last season, Jones recorded 656 yards and two touchdowns in 11 games. As a good receiver, he also caught 30 passes for 233 yards and another score. A hamstring injury and a sprained MCL cost him six games. The Packers lowered his workload to keep him healthy and fresh for the season’s final stretch, and it worked.

In the two playoff matchups, Jones racked up 247 scrimmage yards and three touchdowns, dominating Dallas’ scary defense on the ground. His five consecutive contests with at least 100 rushing yards are a Packers franchise record.

Monitor Key Offensive
Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler (32) dives for the end zone as Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt (57) and Cincinnati Bengals safety Dax Hill (23) defend in the first quarter of a Week 15 NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Cincinnati Bengals, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati. © Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Jones will now form a running back tandem with Ty Chandler, Minnesota’s breakout star in the last few games of the 2023 campaign. He has shown flashes but needed a larger sample size to earn a full-time starting role. For now, Jones should be expected to be the RB1 in the upcoming season.

The Vikings ranked 29th in rushing yards and last in rushing touchdowns in 2023. Hopefully, Jones can provide a spark, as the purple team needs a functioning rushing attack to take some pressure off either Sam Darnold or a rookie quarterback.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt